LEBANON, Ohio (WDTN) – Dr. Susan Allen, who performed the autopsy on Skylar Richardson’s baby and ruled the cause of death a violent homicide, was the witness through the morning of Day 3 of Richardon’s trial.
Allen said she couldn’t determine if the fractures she found on the skull of the baby happened before or after the baby died, but made her opinion based on statements from Richardson during police interrogation.
“When you reviewed the statements and when she made statements, do you believe she may have taken her daughter’s own life?” Assistant prosecutor Julie Kraft asked Allen.
“Yes, that the daughter may have been alive for a period time, that indicates life,” Allen said.
Allen was referring to the first interrogation where Richardson said the baby may have been gurgling and breathing, but wasn’t sure. Richardson said the baby had been born without the umbilical cord attached and said a number of times the baby was dead when she gave birth. These statements were in a video shown in court of Richardson’s first interrogation.
Allen was challenged by defense attorney Charles H. Rittgers, who argued she may have suffered confirmation bias – that she had already formed an opinion and she wasn’t going to change her mind.
Rittgers said Allen never looked at the remains under a dissecting microscope, even though she hired a forensic pathologist, a Dr. Murray.
Rittgers showed emails from Murray, who wrote the prosecution was upset when she said the baby hadn’t been burned, which was an earlier determination.
“I’m happy to do a second exam and addendum to the report,” Murray said in an email. “But if I don’t see it, that’s what I have to say. I ain’t going to lie to (the prosecution), and I ain’t going to lie for them.”
Rittgers asked if she consulted an obstetrician. Allen said she hadn’t. He also asked if she looked at photos of the burial site or the Richardson’s backyard, Allen said no.
He asked why she didn’t use Murray, after hiring her, to do a microscopic exam of the fractures. He also asked why she didn’t add the report from Dr. Krista Latham, a forensic anthropologist from the University of Indianapolis who was hired by the prosecution.
“She wasn’t hired by our office, she was hired by the prosecutor’s office,” Allen said. “I don’t recall if the prosecutor provided her report.”
Rittgers shot back: “Did you call (the prosecutor’s office) after I provided it (to you)?” Allen said she hadn’t.
Latham testified for a few minutes after Allen. Assistant prosecutor Steven Knippen asked her if any of the bone evidence could show if the baby died from suffocation or drowning. She said that wasn’t possible.
She said under both defense and state questioning that under microscopic examination, the fractures that occurred to the baby happened after the baby died.
Prosecution, defense paint different health picture of baby
Dr. Kim Brady, a fetal medicine specialist, testified during the afternoon portion of the trial, mostly under examination of the prosecution.
He cast doubts on Richardson’s baby being stillborn, stating all she had was one screening, and given the margin of error of ‘fundal height measurements’ during the third trimester of a pregnancy (which he said are off 60 percent of the time), she was probably carrying a healthy baby.
“She said she could feel the baby moving inside her (during visit to the OBGYN), does a dead baby move?,” Kraft asked.
“No,” Brady said.
Kraft also had Brady cast doubt on the reports from a doctor who filed a report for the defense that said Richardson’s baby likely had growth issues.
Brady said his opinion was wrong.
Rittgers challenged a report from the prosecution and stated by the prosecution that said the baby likely was conceived in late August.
He asked Brady if he saw a report from Warren County detectives Brandi Carter and John Faine which included an interview with the baby’s father, Trey Johnson, who said him and Richardson had ‘messed around’ during late July and early August.”
“Assuming he was the father, do you think she would be 39 weeks pregnant?” Rittgers asked.
“Assuming it’s fact, yes,” Brady replied.
Brady was asked if he was being paid by the prosecution. He said he was paid an amount of $5,000 a day because that’s what it costs the practice if they have a doctor that’s not there. He said the practice charges $500 an hour for any research time they have to put into a case.